When it comes to American designers, it doesn’t get much more iconic than Ralph Lauren. With its perennial refined-yet-easy styles, the namesake brand has defined American fashion for a generation—and continues to do so today. But that definition is ever-changing, and by melding modern design and time-honored craftsmanship, the designer’s Purple Label continues to set the bar high. With modern wardrobe essentials that carry any man from a day at the office to a night on the town, from the most casual of weekends to the most formal of soirees, the Spring ’17 collection blurs the line between dressed-up and relaxed in the best way possible.
“Ralph is one of the most influential, consistent, and successful designers in the world, so you know that, whatever he does, the quality and taste level will be of the utmost perfection,” say John Totolis, Barneys VP/DMM of men’s tailored clothing. “His clothes are streamlined in fit and design and extremely relevant to the time we live in today, which operates at a faster pace than it ever has before. Garments need to be strong enough to stand on their own, but also able to mix and match with other pieces in the collection so that customers don’t have to worry about creating a perfect outfit or look. Lauren has captured all of this in Purple Label.”
When Lauren launched Purple Label in 1994, it was initially with a combination of classic tailoring, the world’s best fabrics, and an emphasis on Italian-made suiting. While those elements remain true of the brand today, the label has shifted its focus beyond impeccable suiting and crisp shirting to include a full lifestyle line for a man who is discerning in what he wears and wants only the best. The full range of sportswear melds a classic sense of refinement with an eye for ease to create the ultimate in luxury.
Totolis, for one, is on board for this shift. “For the guy who was familiar with what Purple Label suiting was years ago, he’ll find that now the fabrics will be a bit more modern and the fits will be a bit slimmer,” he tells us. “The fabrics now offer more flexibility, like a wool fresco that will breathe and that’s less likely to wrinkle than his previous suiting. The suit could be worn with a shirt and tie of course, but looks just as good with a great solid knit. He is a gentleman with a modern aesthetic that is streamlined and well edited.”
That aesthetic is reflected throughout Ralph Lauren Purple Label, where classic menswear pieces are infused with a contemporary attitude. Those Italian-made suits are still integral to the collection, but come in tropical wools or silk-linen blends and are offered in the stronger, more structured Anthony fit or the softer, easier Nigel cut. More traditional materials like extra-fine merino wool are reimagined for pieces like a sporty track short. A sleek lambskin jacket or textured sweater blazer bring a relaxed look to iconic silhouettes. The familiar, chic tuxedo shares closet space with a statement-making navy, palm-leaf jacquard evening jacket.
Even with these up-to-the-moment tweaks on expectations, though, Ralph Lauren is never done evolving and redefining how men dress today. “I think that in the future, we’ll continue to see Ralph Lauren pushing their signature mix of tailoring and sportswear, taking chances, and giving their loyal customers some new options—all while not straying too far from the Americana of his brand DNA, which customers have come to know and trust. We know that the level of attention to detail will always be there, which is key, but added into the mix will be words like ‘modern,’ ‘minimal,’ and ‘creative.’”